It may look like a Star Trek biobed, but the technology to offer radiation therapy to cancer patients in Prince George is a reality.
Two high-end linear accelerators have been fully installed at the still-under-construction B.C. Cancer Agency Centre for the North.
The accelerators - each housed in their own room named after the two rivers cutting through the city - allow clinicians to provide more precise radiation treatments, with arms that rotate around the patient's bed.
The hulking white machines use high-energy X-rays and electrons to kill cancer tumour cells.
Not only do the rooms housing the $3 million dollar units not have doors, but they are also are equipped with two-way communication and five cameras so patients don't feel as though they are locked away.
The machines arrived in Prince George in March in 30 pieces and now that they're assembled, centre's medical physics team - led by Piotr Dubrowski - will work on calibrating the accelerators to ensure the radiation beams are accurate to the nearest fraction of a millimetre.
The ability to offer this treatment locally is something that makes cancer survivor Jennifer Wiseman very happy.
Three years ago, at the age of 29, Wiseman was diagnosed with breast cancer. After a year and a half of other treatments, she was told she would have to undergo radiation therapy.
"I was very devastated that I had to leave my family, but I had to do it" she said. Wiseman spent six weeks in a travel trailer in Burnaby with her mother and youngest daughter, leaving her husband and older daughter at home in Prince George.
"I drove in and out to daily treatments in Vancouver - treatments that took 10 minutes each time," she said. "Talk about a waste of time when I could be living my life with my support team here in Prince George coming in for my treatment and then going and carrying on."
The most important part of having radiation therapy available locally will be not having to split up families, Wiseman added.
"And those who need to travel, that aren't from Prince George, don't have to travel a long way, so they can at least go see their families on the weekend or [their families] can come and see them, because Vancouver's just way too far away," she said.
This is the kind of story that won't have to be told in six months, said Prince George-Mackenzie MLA Pat Bell, adding it was a similar story that he and Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond heard eight years ago that kickstarted their own interest in bringing a cancer centre to the city.
"It's traumatic enough to contemplate the word 'cancer' in our lives. Imagine hearing it and knowing you have to travel away from the the people you love and the people you need," Bond said.
Slated to open late this year, the new cancer centre is expected to serve 750 patients annually. It will be the sixth regional cancer centre operated by the B.C. Cancer Agency - a branch of the Provincial Health Services Authority.